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The Pagan Agenda

By Katrina Rasbold

If you are unconvinced that everyone has an agenda, you desperately need a Facebook account. We all have agendas which we kindly refer to as “life goals.” Sure, we can parrot platitudes such as “all we want is to be treated with tolerance” and “if I don’t get a cast iron cauldron at a good price at this swap meet, I might shank someone,” but really, when it comes to it, the agenda is far more predictable than that. In fact, considering the number of Pagans I have known throughout forty plus years of active Paganism spanning multiple continents, I have found I can boil down the life goals of individual Pagans to one or more the following five things:

1) I want to write a book.

2) I want to open a Pagan store.

3) I want to start a Pagan commune.

4) I want to run a Pagan school.

5) I want to run a huge Pagan festival

Pour enough liquor into a Pagan and they will likely wax misty-eyed and mention some mix of these goals. Unfortunately, these ambitions tend to die around the campfire in the light of day and yet, a few motivated or reckless or naive folks do give them a whirl. I am blessed to have done four of these things and to have met and picked the brains of those who did the fifth. If you are interested in any of those common dreams, I have the low down and can speak to their viabilities, as well as costs and rewards. Other folks will have their own experiences and opinions. These are my personal observations and assessments.

1) I want to write a book.

My first book (2013), still available on

Since 2013, I have published forty-two books and that doesn’t even count the porn. I was blessed to have Llewellyn Worldwide publish three of those books. Many people have asked, “How did you do it?” It really is no big mystery and truly, the only reason it is an accomplishment is because so few others sit down and do it. If they do, they belabor the thing for literally years trying to get it just perfect. Sure, we want the best product possible and writing takes time, but you can overpaint a masterpiece and never finish it. As a consulting author and editor, I find that the people who drag out their writing are often insecure about their talent and use all that perfecting and researching to delay out the release of their product and also the possible rejection of their book by the public.

In 2012, my mantra was “Demand more from yourself” and in conjunction with that, I did the unthinkable. In March of 2012, I booked an author appearance and lecture for June of that year on the topic of my book. The thing was I did not have a book published or even written. With the June 2012 deadline looming, I burned the midnight oil and wrote not one, but three books. I just sat down and did it, then printed and bound the books myself, using an old saddle binder. I also put the PDF of the book onto computer disks and sold those as e-books at a cheaper price. Less than a year later, I submitted those books and ten more to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishers and they immediately began to sell. A few months later, I used Createspace to create and market paperback versions. My publishing revenue continues to be a nice residual income that comes in every month whether I write or not. It’s that easy.

If you are one of those people who feel you have a book in you, sit down and start writing. Dorothy Parker said (paraphrasing), “Writing is the art of applying the ass to the chair.” Just do it and let the words flow. Find good editors who will be honest with you and help you refine your project, then publish your book. If you want to change it later, there is always a second or third edition option. Above all, just do it. The tragedy is dying without your own personal message ever coming to print to live on past you, regardless of what that message might be. Gone are the days when writers can wallpaper the office with rejection letters from “real” publishers. Now, you can write a book and have it published and available for sale in a matter of days. Once you write your book, read everything you can on successful marketing of your book because that is just as important as good writing. Pagan publishers like Weiser and Llewellyn are smart, the acquisition editors are kind, but honest, and they know if they can market what you produce. They can’t, however, if they do not know you exist and never see your work, so start submitting.

RATING OF GOAL: 5 of 5 stars (Why are you still here? Start typing that book, even if you don’t yet know what to say.)

2) I want to open a Pagan store.

Our last shop, Crossroads Metaphysical Store

My husband and I owned Two Sisters Botanica in Roseville, California and Crossroads Metaphysical Store in Shingle Springs, California. Running those stores together over almost a decade is truly the most magical experience we have ever had and the rewards were not only monetary. It was so much more than a business. It was a community and we were blessed. A Pagan store is subject to the same challenges of any business and a working knowledge of your state and local laws and regulations is vital. Marketing, shop design, and inventory selections are also important concepts to learn about before you start a business. Beyond that, I assure you that having a magical store is as fantastic of an experience as you would imagine it to be.

Things to remember:

There are affluent Pagans, but you will rarely hit the 1% of your target audience who have means to buy $500 athames or $50 pendants. You will largely attract the attention of the 99%, which means financially challenged Pagans who want wonderful, usable products at an affordable price. The reason I see most stores fail is they underestimate the cost of running a store and they stock higher end products that few of their customers can afford. You will make more money and achieve greater customer loyalty by selling fifty $5 items than by offering three $100 products that stay in your inventory and are often admired by your customers and left there. My best seller? Hand-dipped incense that is my loss-leader because it is something almost everyone can afford.

Space rental, insurance, and inventory are the biggest expenses of a brick and mortar store.

Business hours are a bear at first because unless you have staff, you are going to be at the store all the time.

Much of that time investment will involve “dead air” where you wait for customers to come in

Your inventory will always look far more impressive and extensive in your living room or garage than it does in your store.

Not everyone who comes into a Pagan store is a nice person, so keep your wards up, smudge frequently, and smile pretty.

RATING OF GOAL: 5 of 5 stars (by all means, do it if you can because we need more great Pagan stores!)

3) I want to start a Pagan commune.

My backyard with no one camped in it (that I know of)

A commune requires real estate, which is usually a good financial investment. You are well-positioned to pursue this idea if you are:

Independently wealthy with a good amount of disposable income
Blessed with generous benefactors/backers
Poised to inherit a sizable piece of property
A primary officer in a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a stellar grant writer on retainer
The current owner of a large piece of property with a general contractor at your disposal

Otherwise, I do not advise it. I have known and personally witnessed far more utter failures at this particular goal than the one or two successes I have seen. In addition to the considerable financial obstacles to such an undertaking, the additional factors of power plays, personality conflicts, and distribution of wealth and responsibility creates incredible stresses. Things to remember if you decide on this venture:

Democracy is a wonderful plan as long as it remains in the minds and hearts of the participants rather implementing it as an actual structure. Sure, there are those who can pull this off, but that is like saying that if you find a place to rest the lever, you can move the world. A dictatorship is required because someone has to hold the title to the land, make the hard decisions, and catch the buck when it is passed for the final round. Do not make the mistake of overestimating your fellow humans.

Paperwork is a real thing, as are taxes.

At their own hearts, most people, even those in a commune, will do what works for them before what works for the community.

You will eventually have to ask someone to leave.

No matter how much you think you do, you do not really know someone until you live with them…for quite a while…and have to depend on them in a crunch.

I am not saying it can’t work because it can and some shining stars knock this out of the ballpark. Check out The Farm in Tennessee, which has functioned as an intentional community since 1971 and accomplished amazing things despite their hardships. My only point is to caution that of all these goals, this one seems to have the highest rate of failure at the greatest costs on all levels. For myself? I do not like nearly enough people well enough to give this a try.

RATING OF GOAL: 1 of 5 stars (great in theory, but is the destroyer of friendships and family/personal fortunes for the average person)

4) I want to run a Pagan school.

Of the five goals, I believe this one is explored on some level more than any of the other three and you need only to turn to Google to see what a “needle in a haystack” enterprise a Pagan school turns out to be.

I ran The Witchy School and The Bio-University and the amount of work required to proctor lessons, field questions, and guide students was extensive and not commiserate with tuition the market could bear. It is literally a full-time job between marketing and curriculum development to retain students and keep content fresh. If you offer online classes, the financial outlay is minimal and the greatest investment will be your time, talent, and yes, your patience. Competition is fierce and you are buried in a mound of similar endeavors. If you choose a brick-and-mortar school, then additional expenses such as insurance, physical material, utilities, and room rental come into play.

The most common way this goal manifests is on a smaller scale through private, informal training of one’s own magical students. Arguably, the most successful school of magic is The Grey School of Wizardry led by Pagan pioneer Oberon Zell. Another great one is Temple of Witchcraft, founded by Christopher Penczak, Steve Kenson, and Adam Sartwell.

Others successful schools do exist and are monetarily advantageous to the creators, however, most of these are the product of a prominent Pagan leader who has an existing body of work from which to draw legitimacy.

RATING OF GOAL: 2 of 5 stars (achievable on a higher level, but Oh My Goddess with nearly super-human effort unless you are already a public persona)

5) I want to run a huge Pagan festival

In 2014, me, my husband, and four of our friends decided that after working the local festivals for almost two decades, we wanted to step up and start our own festival. The Sacramento Celtic Faerie Festival was ending after ten years and something needed to fill the gap for a festival that kicked off the festival year. Through that, PanGaia Festival was born. After that, we revived the annual Sacramento Witches’ Ball.

As you can imagine, hosting a major festival of any kind is a huge undertaking. As with starting a Pagan shop, it is essential that you know about all pertinent local laws and restrictions because let me tell you, if you are in violation of any regulation, federal or local, Murphy’s Law has never cut so deeply. They will find you. Even in 1969 when things were a bit more relaxed than now, Woodstock didn’t just happen. The standard is that it will take you around six months of intense planning and prior to that, six months of loosey goosey planning. Make sure you know the limitations and strengths of the people you bring on board to help you.

Things to know: PortaPotties are expensive. People will always complain no matter what you do or how well you do it. Only around half of your eager volunteers will actually show up and of them, only around 70% will do what you ask. It’s exciting. It’s fun. It is a lot more work than it appears to be. It looks like you show up, work hard for a couple of days, and go home. Before that time, you eat, breathe, and live festival for many months. Hint: Make sure your vendors are comfortable and happy. As tempting as it might be, do not overbook vendors. Fifteen jewelry vendors in one place do not make for happy jewelry vendors. Know your community members and make sure warring factions get placed far from one another. Have actual trained security people rather than Some Guy In A Security Vest. You need someone trained to de-escalate and manage volatile situations on festival grounds at all times.

RATING OF GOAL: 4 of 5 stars (Get a good leader to head up the process, find dependable, hard-working, dedicated people to help you, don’t take anything personally, and you will have the time of your life despite the hard work.)

Should Pagans pursue their dreams? Like any other people, the tragedy lies in never trying or allowing the world to tell you it can’t be done. It is also important to be informed about the challenges and rewards of your chosen goal. Don’t let your dream die around the campfire, but know what you’re getting into when you light them up.

Katrina Rasbold is a professional Witch, published author, priestess, and editor of Green Egg Magazine. She and her husband, Eric, are the creators of the CUSP spiritual path and owners of Crossroads Occult. She and Dahlia Rose host the popular livestreamed video broadcast “Crossroads of Cognizance” most Thursday afternoons. 

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